Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To Occupy Wallstreet: SHAME ON THE BOTTOM 47%


Today the democratic ethos of our nation is under attack – no longer do policy-makers in Washington speak to the need for all to contribute to the common good, rather they speak in patronizing platitudes of the constant duty to insulate the “working poor” from any civic responsibility.  This patronizing policy would have been rebuked by the working man just 50 years ago, but now many welcome it – former participants in the body politic are now self-serving observers. 

The most blatant example of this loss of self-respect is embodied in the Occupy movements around the country.  They saunter out of there LL Bean pup-tents and reach for the closest placard embossed with the Motto:  WE ARE THE 99% - the implication being that a nefarious 1% is scheming to control the lives of the average American.

A disinterested review of Tax Year 2008 from the IRS might provide a much needed cold shower for these latter day hippies.

The top 1% paid more than 38% of the federal personal income tax for the nation. 
The top 5% paid more than 58% of the federal income tax. And what of the bottom 47%?  They paid nothing.  In short, nearly ½ of the people of the United States paid no federal income tax at all.  Just 50 years ago this past January, President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to resist the self-indulgent wining that was in it’s infancy in the nation.

On that freezing morning in 1961 he proclaimed: "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."    

Either this proclamation is just another platitude destined for the trash heap of political rhetoric or it is a national motto written and lived by the young president himself – a man who sought front line duty during the pacific theater of World War II and suffered dearly from his experiences.  From General Washington leading his men across the Delaware River to rout the Hessians at Trenton in 1776, to the first responders entering the towers of the World Trade Pavilion on September 11, 2001, real Americans have always carried their fair share.

In 1961, a laborer might have stopped into the neighborhood pub to enjoy a hard earned beer.  While the hops filtered through his taste buds and into his nostrils, he would have looked at his hands – hands swollen from the 8 hours of manual labor.  This working man, most likely a Democrat, would thought of his wife and children, and felt a strong smile coming over his face, a smile of pride and belonging to the national fabric of the USA.      

Today, the injustice is not with the 1%, but rather with the 47% who contribute nothing to the federal coffers.  Unfortunately, in a grand strategy of national pandering to today’s working poor, our current president wants to increase the number of people who contribute nothing to their country’s national bank account.  A skeptic would wonder if the president realizes that his actions are building a permanent majority to vote for him and his Democratic cohorts of the future. 

In his ground breaking social critique of the United States, Australian author Robert Hughes railed against a people he saw as professional whiners.  Hughes used his pen in 1993’s the Culture of Complaint to hone in on the central problem of the new American psyche: complete and utter selfishness.  Robert Hughes was correct at least for 47% of our population.

Fifteen years earlier Russian dissentient Alexander Solzhenitsyn reached the same conclusion.  He delivered the Harvard Class Day Speech (A World Split Apart in 1978) and focused on the onslaught of modernization vis-à-vis consumerism and selfishness.  The speech was both intemperate given his status as a political exile enjoying asylum and brilliant since Solzhenitsyn identified a serious fissure in our national character.

This highlights the main problem with the occupy members, they look and act like children.  It’s time for all adults to grow up and help this great country of ours to recover – one way to do this is for everyone adult to pay something for the greater good even if you’re poor.  To the pampered 47%, joining the legions of taxpayers would be one way “…you can do (something) for your country."  WORD COUNT: 709

Geoffrey G. Fisher

Geoffrey G. Fisher is a State-Certified History and Government Teacher. 
He currently works in Southwest Florida as a Guest Teacher.  He served for six years as a public official in Connecticut and holds a Master of Arts Degree in Public Policy from Trinity College in Hartford, CT.

Tax Year 2008

Percentiles Ranked by AGI
AGI Threshold on Percentiles
Percentage of Federal Personal Income Tax Paid
Top 1%
Top 5%
Top 10%
Top 25%
Top 50%
Bottom 50%
             Note: AGI is Adjusted Gross Income
                Source: Internal Revenue Service

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